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Confessions of a Feminine Cursing Fetishist

By Christopher A. Kukstis, Crimson Staff Writer

Last week’s FM scrutiny on an anonymous student’s struggles coming out with his sadomasochism habit has given me the courage to come forth with a fetish of my own. A fetish that I’ve long kept hidden from all but my closest friends. A fetish that I hope to purge and come to grips with through the writing of this column. Since my preadolescence this longing has been with me, eagerly perking up at the slightest mention. In fact I remember when it first hit me—where I was and whom I was with.... Enough of this, let’s have it out: I, Christopher Andrew Kukstis, have an above average—nay, obsessive—love of women rockers using the f-word.

Perhaps this isn’t so odd. The benefits of “talking dirty” have been explicated in countless Cosmo and Glamour pieces, alongside other secrets that men don’t want women to know. In this wild, fetishized world, am I then really so strange? Yet my obsession has nothing to do with sex. In fact the raunchiest of rap’s sex-jams won’t have the slightest effect on this particular fetish.

Rather, it’s the word itself, its forbidden nature, its taboo. I remember when it first struck me. The year was 1995 and I was 12 years old, driving in the backseat of my mother’s car. She was listening to her usual adult alternative contemporary station and a song from a new, young Canadian songstress came on. I grew 10 years listening to those lyrics that somehow passed unedited into my ears. There was mention of some broken relationship, some new person, some mysterious mention of a “cross-eyed bear.” And then, in sultry, cool vocals, the words that made my mother gasp aloud, look back at me, and flip the station: “And are you thinking of me when you fuck her!”

I wasn’t sure what Alanis meant back then. I was naive and without any understanding of how my curious interest would one day manifest itself as a full-fledged fetish. Perhaps the genesis lay in that episode. Freud would certainly agree, especially after I revealed to him that I’ve mysteriously never heard my mother utter such an oath. But origins are irrelevant; the obsession is here, and for now I can just cross my fingers and hope to one day find a rock star woman who might understand my need and fill me with constant delight. In preparation for such, I’ve compiled a short list of the leading candidates, the precise musical moments when I find myself overcome with adulation at these women artists and the specific sub-genres of feminine cursing that they represent.

The British Woman Curser: “Escort Crash on Marston Street” by Heavenly from the album Heavenly Vs. Satan; 0:10 into the track. “Heavenly” describes lead singer Amelia Fletcher’s voice perfectly. Her notes are ethereal, lilting; they seem to belong on a plane completely separate from our own. So when she opens this 1991 track with the words “Oh hey Robert / you’re driving much too fucking fast,” her casual cuss strikes me as especially enticing. That the song’s a metapoetic description of a terrible car crash killing all of the members of the band in their Ford Escort (“In heaven there’ll be Heavenly tonight...”) does little to overshadow the sexiness of her f-bomb, with that high-pitched British “uh” midway through the word.

The Boston Woman Curser: “Snailhead” by the Throwing Muses from The Curse live album; 1:44 into the track. The studio version of this song is about the same, except for the styling of the phrase “break the fuckin’ spiral,” vociferously grrr-ed by lead singer Kristin Hersh in sharp contrast to the album version’s more tepid version of the oath. Delicious! She’s not the best-looking angst-ridden siren, but this second of song makes her a veritable goddess.

The Angry Woman Curser: “Divorce Song” by Liz Phair from Exile in Guyville; 2:03 into track. There are so many examples of excellent swearing on this disc, but my reluctance to use the obvious “Flower” shows how this fetish dives deeper than mere sex. Phair flings true bile here, finding no word better to substitute when listing her relationship grievances: “... you did the things you said were up to me, and then accused me of trying to fuck it up.” She opts for a more straight-forward, nearly spoken representation of the word, and her straight-forwardness is what makes this so sexy. Like every girlfriend who ever spat this out at you, Phair’s usage of so strong an oath resounds with sincerity and necessity, and makes her other uses just seem...egregious.

The Old Woman Curser: “My Generation” by Patti Smith, recorded live; 0:15 into track. This live Who cover has supplanted CD versions of her landmark 1975 release Horses, and features some excellent lyrical changes from The Who’s version. Though on both recordings it sounds like the curse should come at the “fuh fuh fuh ... fade away!” segment of the song, Patti Smith decides to modify more drastically, changing The Who’s mild “things are looking pretty cold / I hope I die before I get old” to a bombastic cry of “I don’t need their fucking shit! / hope I die because of it!” The foul-mouthed Patti Smith broke new ground in feminine cursing way back when, and her legacy shines on in all the subsequent examples. Her vitriol is uncontrollable on this live cut, but as I look at recent photos of the songwriter, I have to admit that I probably would be able to contain myself if I saw her perform this in concert today.

It’s taken a lot of courage for me to come forth with this and I already feel the release that doing so has granted me. My longing for a woman who will swear at me and be a rock star is a simple thing, which now perhaps I am better equipped to overcome. Or perhaps, taking the Freudian road, the solution is to hear my mother drop the f-bomb. Mom, if you’re out there, call me.

—Staff writer Christopher A. Kukstis can be reached at kukstis@fas.harvard.edu.

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